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'The God Delusion' revolutionized my life! - Comments

hairybreeks's Avatar Comment 1 by hairybreeks

I know that this won't be a popular statement, but I think the 'Theistic Evolution' tactic is a good one. If you come out as an atheist straight away no one will turn up at your meetings. Make haste slowly...

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 10:01:06 UTC | #570033

gylesw's Avatar Comment 2 by gylesw

Hi there,

I grew up in a religious cult (Jehovah's Witnesses) and it took me until my late 20s to get out and investigate the doubts I had since childhood. You are doing well and I can well appreciate the contraints you have, as regards family and your social contacts.

Do not make the mistake of thinking you can 'save' those around you from their religiously inspired ignorance, or that it is your responsibility to do so. Your responsibility is finishing your education and getting to a point in life you can stand on your own two feet.

Atheism doesn't need you to martyr yourself and beware of any who advise you to take actions that would alienate you from those around you when you are at a point in life where you have no choice about who is around you; normally such advice comes from people who have a degree and a home of their own, and who have not risked being shunned by everyone they know by taking a stand for their beliefs.

The theistic evo is a good stance for the time being. Big obvious gestures like starting a club are less effective and more troublesome than subtle questioning of those who seem potentially of like mind; and they are there, just too afraid to speak out.

All the best

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 10:38:12 UTC | #570041

Sample's Avatar Comment 3 by Sample

Do not make the mistake of thinking you can 'save' those around you from their religiously inspired ignorance, or that it is your responsibility to do so. Your responsibility is finishing your education and getting to a point in life you can stand on your own two feet. (gylesw)

Sage advice and timely for my own little microcosm of reality lately. Thank you.

Mike

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 10:44:50 UTC | #570042

Cj's Avatar Comment 4 by Cj

Comment Removed by Author

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 10:52:35 UTC | #570046

Cj's Avatar Comment 5 by Cj

Hi Michael,

I also have just read The God Delusion, although I was already an atheist. I requested it for my 52 birthday to read on holiday.

After seeing the TV programme THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL presented by Richard I also watched more on YouTube, It was after the Pope said the terrible things that he did on his visit to the UK that reminded me that I wanted this book, so thanks to the Pope I read it on holiday.

I also found it to be a great book and a must to read, I now want to read more books written by Richard and others like him.

I do not know if you could change the minds of others in you school but admire you for putting yourself in that position. It’s not just your class mates that will be upset. Teachers and parents could also be upset so please take a few precautions before you do this, speak the Head Teacher at the very least.

Keep looking on YouTube for others like Richard and it will help you put together some strong arguments forward in favour of being an atheist.

You do not need to believe in a god to be a good person. I am a Tae Kwon Do teacher and therefore I teach the Tenets of Tae Kwon Do which are: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control and Indomitable Spirit. I am a very moral person and a atheist so you do not need a religion to be a moral person.

Please let us all know how you get on and I wish you all the best.

Keep safe!

Best regards Chris

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 11:05:04 UTC | #570049

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 6 by AtheistEgbert

Should I just come out as an Atheist? Consider that it might literately be dangerous to my physical well-being.

That is your choice. I suggest honesty because I bet there are many just like you who are also lying about their real position.

Do you think it might be a good idea to start an Intelligent Design vs. Evolution club to educate the students?

I think you still retain some of your evangelical mode of thinking. Why bother if you are already lying to protect yourself? I suggest you come to a decision: remain quiet and simply lie to everyone about your real world view in order to protect yourself, or come out fully and honestly and live your life authentically. It's your existential dilemma.

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 11:18:49 UTC | #570051

M69att's Avatar Comment 7 by M69att

A good post Michael and congratulations on your emancipation!

I agree with the advice already tendered and suggest that you continue to build your position and confidence whilst remaining safe. I have no doubt that you have the intellect and the arguments to stand your ground but you should remember that ‘they’ don’t listen but simply retreat to the “word of god” and a faith position that cannot be argued with. No matter how good your argument you can’t beat that type of thinking with reason and, in fact, the better your argument the more threatened they will feel and the nastier they will become. I think that you have adopted a healthier (for yourself) and, ultimately, more productive path in terms of persuading others. Whilst I concur with Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and the like, I do think there are some battles more pressing than others and if you say, “I’m an atheist, evolution is the answer” they will close down totally, tell themselves you are the mouthpiece of the devil or some such nonsense and nothing you say will have any credibility with them. If, on the other hand, you say, “Evolution could have been God’s way of bringing about creation”, as I often do when speaking with the various religious nuts who I happen to like and care about, at least you have a chance at getting them to have a look at Evolution seriously. We have to be clever about it and break down the delusion one step at a time and spreading the acceptance of Evolution is a very good starting point.

Finally, as you are an Audible subscriber, I would highly recommend Christopher Hitchens’ “God is not great: Religion poisons everything.” Also available read by the author. Although, I must admit that Hitchens is harder to listen to than Dawkins because he always sounds a little drunk; probably because he has spent much of his life in that state. Still his book is fantastic, well argued and very amusingly written. Where Dawkins gives clear concise argument against religion, Hitchens gives us a witty and cutting refutation.

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 11:29:25 UTC | #570057

InYourFaceNewYorker's Avatar Comment 8 by InYourFaceNewYorker

Congratulations on moving past the religion where God sacrifices himself to himself to save the world from himself. I'm guessing, based on the sad state of your biology class, you're down in the Bible belt somewhere. What state are you in?

Julie

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 11:44:51 UTC | #570063

Vogon42's Avatar Comment 9 by Vogon42

I'd just quietly explain evolution to your mates as an amazing thing you've found out about. I wouldn't "come out" in your circumstances and I certainly wouldn't start a "me versus the world" club. There are plenty of people I just avoid discussing religion with because it won't do any good.

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 12:12:27 UTC | #570075

Pete H's Avatar Comment 10 by Pete H

Keep in mind that you are dealing with powerful psychological phenomena. Scientific arguments and evidence may not be relevant except for people in a similar situation to yourself who just need a small nudge in the right direction. There would probably be additional reasons why you were receptive to The God Delusion. Possibly the allure of forbidden fruit: the chance mis-labelling of Richard Dawkins – with the reactive affect of making his book more attractive, if only to see what there is to fear.

Before doing anything I suggest you learn everything you can about the psychology of influence and belief. A possible starting point is Robert Cialdini’s famous book.

You may be well-placed to set an example to others on the brink. But there maybe ways to maximise your advantage. Best to work with the psychology instead of against it.

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 12:17:26 UTC | #570076

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 11 by Alan4discussion

If you are in a group of self reinforcing fundamentalists, they will not listen to reason, and seem to be well dug into the local social establishment. If you were sent to a theology camp, your parents would seem to be steeped in this.

Study life sciences, evolution and scientific reasoning. Discuss these with sympathetic friends, but avoid creating a unified backlash against yourself.

If you go to university, you should find plenty of rational student groups.

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 13:08:28 UTC | #570094

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 12 by Stevehill

Can you make a formal complaint to the school board or something that your biology teacher is not fit for purpose and should be fired?

And if the school board does nothing, take them to court to make them do something?

I am totally serious.

Biology without evolution is like astronomy predicated on a flat earth at the centre of the universe. It is not science. It is fucking bullshit.

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 13:51:54 UTC | #570108

mellifera's Avatar Comment 13 by mellifera

About the biology teaching, I would contact the http://ncse.com/ and see if they can help.

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 15:35:01 UTC | #570157

Dr. monster's Avatar Comment 14 by Dr. monster

think about starting the self preservation society

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 15:44:09 UTC | #570161

Roger J. Stanyard's Avatar Comment 15 by Roger J. Stanyard

From what you say, the biology teacher is pushing creationism in class. If he says that Goddidit, that is outright illegal - as has been decided in court case after court case.

You can get a lot of help on this; try the National Center for Science Education (if need be I can give you contact names there), ACLU and Americans United. The NCSE should be able to give you appropriate contacts there. The NCSE spealises in dealing with cases like yours - it's there to help.

The one thing, however, you must do, is to get accurate evidence on what he is saying in the classroom and details of any creationist material - books, pamphlets, DVDs, web sites - that he suggests students use.

It is also worth bearing in mind that you would best only fight one battle at a time. If you go down the NCSE route, don't push you atheist viewpoints. Leave that till afterwards. Just stick to science issues and the breach of the law. When you're finding battles, you need as many friends onside as possible and as few as possible opposing you.

One approach you might want to consider is setting up you own biology group with like minded students to teach yourselves evolutionary biology - then raise the matter with the governors and local press why you were forced to do so because of religiously-based biology teaching. Put the school management and board of education to shame.

The school board will not want this to go to the courts - the prospect of a likely bill of US$1 million plus for legal fees will concentrate their minds wonderfully.

Roger Stanyard, British Centre for Science Education.

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 16:59:56 UTC | #570207

RepealingCreationismLaw's Avatar Comment 16 by RepealingCreationismLaw

Its already been said a couple times but the NCSE, AU, and the ACLU.

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 17:59:33 UTC | #570257

Michael Austin's Avatar Comment 17 by Michael Austin

Comment 7 by M69att :

Finally, as you are an Audible subscriber, I would highly recommend Christopher Hitchens’ “God is not great: Religion poisons everything.” Also available read by the author. Although, I must admit that Hitchens is harder to listen to than Dawkins because he always sounds a little drunk; probably because he has spent much of his life in that state. Still his book is fantastic, well argued and very amusingly written. Where Dawkins gives clear concise argument against religion, Hitchens gives us a witty and cutting refutation.

I've listened to that book, and yes he did sound drunk to me. Honestly, I didn't think that the book was that great. I like watching Christopher's debate, but the book seemed far too negative to me. While 'The God Delusion' contained well-reasoned arguments, the Hitchens' book seemed to be only polemics, which I suppose is his job.

Other questions asked to me: I live in Missouri, but in a small area. 94% of us are Protestant, and 99% are white. Like a Children of the Corn movie :).

Biology teacher- He never outright teaches Creationism, or recommends any literature. He just completely avoids the subject of Evolution(kids in high school still ask 'If humans came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?'). Anytime I ask him about why he won't teach Evolution he gives me one of two answers (I ask him all the time) 1. It's not in the CLE's (Class Level Expectations). Is this really true? 2. It is my job to teach students, not lie to them. To make the situation a little better, every time we are not doing classwork, I debate him about Evolution. He normally just stops at some point that is almost always 'I just don't see x coming from an ancestor like y' (I've at least stopped him from believing that humans came from modern monkeys, and reptiles from modern fish). The class listens, and asks questions. I think that I'm getting somewhere. :) The only thing that I don't like about all of this is to make them listen I have to say: "Evolution is a fact, just like God.' Makes me sick to my stomach that I have to resort to fairytales to teach science. :(

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 18:04:27 UTC | #570259

Michael Austin's Avatar Comment 18 by Michael Austin

I can't edit my posts without making three of them. Can someone tell me how to do that? My Biology teacher still does make God references, that isn't a lie, I just forgot to add it to the last post. Christopher Hitchens: Do any of you recommend 'The Portable Atheist' I have an Audible credit and can get an abridged version of it.

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 18:11:09 UTC | #570264

Vogon42's Avatar Comment 19 by Vogon42

I understand how sickening it is for an honest person to feel forced to lie, especially when you are young and have not been battered about by the realities of the world (I'm more than twice your age). However, the English WW2 Prime Minister summed things up when he said that "In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies". You are in the front-line of the war between knowledge and ignorance. You need that bodyguard to prevent you being destroyed.

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 18:19:51 UTC | #570272

HardNosedSkeptic's Avatar Comment 20 by HardNosedSkeptic

Comment 17 by Michael Austin :

He just completely avoids the subject of Evolution (kids in high school still ask 'If humans came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?').

What does your teacher say when he is asked that question Michael?

'If humans came from monkeys/apes, then why are there still monkeys/apes?' is just about the most common question ever asked about evolution. If your science teacher can't answer it correctly, then the students at your school are not being very well served are they? You have every right to do something about that.

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 18:25:24 UTC | #570277

Michael Austin's Avatar Comment 21 by Michael Austin

Comment 20 by HardNosedSkeptic :

Comment 17 by Michael Austin :

He just completely avoids the subject of Evolution (kids in high school still ask 'If humans came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?').

What does your teacher say when he is asked that question Michael?

'If humans came from monkeys/apes, then why are there still monkeys/apes?' is just about the most common question ever asked about evolution. If your teacher can't answer it, then the students at your school are not being very well served are they? You have every right to do something about that.

Any Evolution questions like that are sardonically forwarded to me, as if they put the nail in the coffin for the whole theory. I answered the question like Richard Dawkins did in the museum (eg. Cousins and I explain the history of the splits between monkeys, apes, and chimpanzees into humans).

I don't know if he could answer the question himself, but he's certainly never tried.

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 18:33:59 UTC | #570284

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 22 by crookedshoes

If he is sardonically forwarding evolution questions to you, take advantage!!! I mean read up on it, learn it, and take any time he will throw your way to talk about it. Steer all conversation to it. There are NO concepts in biology that are far from evolution. Every single factoid and detail is a simple question away from evolution.

I have taught AP Biology for 15 years and am embarrassed for your teacher. I do not know their credential, but what they are doing is most certainly NOT teaching Biology.

Digest this: 1. All species over-reproduce 2. There are variations in the offspring (caused by mutations) 3. The environment acts on these variations 4. There is selective DEATH among the population. 5. Those that do not die and are successful in reproducing "control" the future population's gene pool by contributing their genes to it.

Now think of any topic. Any topic. Better yet, what are you currently studying? After winter break, what topics are next for you? List them and we will discuss,

There are a few other pervasive ideas in Biology. Things we would cal themes. One is the marriage of structure and function. One is the idea of ecology. One is the continuity of information.... There are more...

Everything in your course is evolved except, of course, your teacher.

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 19:30:29 UTC | #570315

Matt B's Avatar Comment 23 by Matt B

If humans came from monkeys/apes, then why are there still monkeys/apes?

Besides the fact that evolution does not state that "humans came from monkeys" ... I heard someone (can't remember whom, probably the good Professor) say that, "Americans came from Europeans, and there are still Europeans."

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 19:37:43 UTC | #570320

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 24 by crookedshoes

Matt B, and Christians came from Jews... yet.... there are still Jews.

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 19:48:27 UTC | #570327

HardNosedSkeptic's Avatar Comment 25 by HardNosedSkeptic

Comment 23 by Matt B :

If humans came from monkeys/apes, then why are there still monkeys/apes?

Besides the fact that evolution does not state that "humans came from monkeys" ...

I realize that Matt. Humans did not come from apes as such, we are apes. And humans did not come from monkeys as such - more accurately we share a common ancestor with monkeys that lived some time in the distant past.

I put the question like that because it is often expressed that way by people who don't know much about evolution. Like the kids in Michael's school for instance. And his biology teacher.

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 19:57:51 UTC | #570332

blitz442's Avatar Comment 26 by blitz442

'If humans came from monkeys/apes, then why are there still monkeys/apes?

If someone asks that question, then ask the person what this sounds like:

"If American English came from British English (a clumsy term I know), then why is there still British English?"

The person should instantly recognize that we are really dealing with at least three things: The modern version of American English, the modern version of British English, and the ancestral form of English common to both (and indeed all dialects of English). You can use this a bridge to explain different degrees of divergence: just as modern British English is probably closer to the ancestral English than is American English, modern apes, chimpanzees specifically, would probably look much more similar to the ancestral ape than we would.

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 19:59:28 UTC | #570334

Michael Austin's Avatar Comment 27 by Michael Austin

@ Comment 22 I was hoping that you would comment here! You are one of my favorite contributors here, and I wish that you were my Biology teacher. I've been studying Evolution as much as I can. Both to answer these questions easily, and because I am genuinely interested in the subject. I've read 'The Greatest Show on Earth,' 'The Ancestor's Tale,' and I'm starting 'The Selfish Gene'(I wish that there were an audiobook). After reading those books, I think that I might want to be an Evolutionary Biologist. My schedule: Band College Algebra Civics Computer Lab Chemistry "Advance Biology" English III

Richard Dawkins has basically become by Biology teacher. I'd say that I probably spend 10 hours a week reading or listening to his books or watching his YouTube videos.

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 20:13:10 UTC | #570343

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 28 by God fearing Atheist

Comment 26 by blitz442 :

"If American English came from British English (a clumsy term I know), then why is there still British English?"

Oy! Its "English", not "British English". ;-)

just as modern British English is probably closer to the ancestral English than is American English,

It might be the other way around. The English dialect spoken in isolated communities on the North Eastern seaboard of the USA is probably closer to Shakespearean English than any dialect spoken in England.

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 20:22:13 UTC | #570348

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 29 by crookedshoes

Michael, Thank you for the kind words and your genuine interest in evolution makes me confident in saying that I'd love for you to be in my class. Richard IS the best teacher of evolution and I have learned tons from him. Not just concepts, but nuances of concepts.

Take a few minutes and make a list of your upcoming topics and I (and others here) would just love to discuss them with you and perhaps we can all learn a little (or a lot) from each other.

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 20:27:08 UTC | #570358

Michael Austin's Avatar Comment 30 by Michael Austin

@ Comment 29 By upcoming topics, I took it to mean my class schedule. Are you referring to what I am going to be studying in Biology?

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 20:31:15 UTC | #570361